Then on Saturday, I found myself with a couple of hours from heaven so I decided to get out and go exploring. It was already past noon so it had to be local. But I didn't have an appetite for familiar local. I wanted new local.
As I started looking at maps, Towsley Canyon, the place I had dismissed and eschewed for all of these years, jumped out at me. It was local. It was new. And it was short. Bam! I grabbed my pack, jumped in the car, and headed out.
Towsley Canyon is one of several units that comprise the Santa Clarita Woodlands Park. The other component units are (1) Pico Canyon, (2) East and Rice Canyon, (3) the Michael D. Antonovich Open Space, and (4) O'Melveny Park. In addition to a 6 mile loop trail, Towsley Canyon is home to Ed Davis Park and the Towsley Lodge, an old Spanish-style ranch house that can be reserved for private functions.
The trail through Towsley Canyon begins as a poor asphalt road in the parking area immediately off of The Old Road. Actually, that description is somewhat confusing as there are 3 parking areas immediately west of The Old Road: one along the shoulder of The Old Road, a larger and more official looking one just as you enter the park, and then a third small weird lot still further in. The first two parking areas are free; the third one costs $7. Unsurprisingly, no one parks in the small, weird area for which you have the privilege of paying $7 to avoid walking an extra 0.10 miles.
The road into the park leisurely winds its way through the canyon bottoms for about 0.50 miles to Ed Davis Park. There, the Don Mullally trails splits off from the main road, ascends the southern slope of the canyon, and then drops into adjacent Wiley Canyon.
Continuing up Towsley, the asphalt disappears and the road slowly begins to narrow eventually becoming a foot path. As the trail constricts so too do the canyon walls which began to close in around you. Here, you enter the Narrows where the geology becomes interesting as the trail passes through the Pico Anticline. The canyon is well shaded along this stretch and is bounded by intermittent Towsley Creek.
|Towsley Canyon Narrows|
|Leaving the Narrows|
|View Back Through the Narrows|
I stuck to the main trail this day, although the "unofficial" path looked intriguing. I'll have to save that option in my memory banks and return to have a look in the future. As for the official trail, it continues to switch-back up to the top of the ridge, passing a messy oil seep along the way and affording really nice views north to the Santa Clarita Valley and beyond. Once you achieve the ridge, there are a couple of places to put down for a bit while you admire the fine scenery, including a flat with a couple of majestic Coastal Live Oak trees.
Beyond the ridge, the trail starts an incremental descent into the cool and shade of Wiley Canyon. The day I was there, the look and feel of autumn was in the air. Once at the canyon bottom, the trail (which gradually widens into a fire road as you descend and track east) follows a creek bed that carries the occasional whiff of seeping oil. Further down canyon, the trail intersects the Don Mullally Trail that track north, crosses the ridge again, and deposits you back into Towsley Canyon at Ed Davis Park where an ample lawn and multiple picnic tables greet you.
|Looking Into Towsley Canyon from the Don Mullally Trail|
|View Across Towsley Canyon from the Don Mullally Trail|
|View North from the Crest|
|Santa Clarita and Beyond|
|Coast Live Oak|
Now that I've been to Towsley Canyon, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. It's kind of a cool place. For an urban hike, it offers much more than I expected and certainly more than its unattractive location immediately off the I-5 would suggest.
|Fall Colors in Wiley Canyon|
|Interesting Rock Formations in Wiley Canyon|
|View Into Towsley Canyon from the Bill Mulally Connector Trail|
|Ed Davis Park in Lower Towsley Canyon|
Man that's a dry and clinical write-up. Apologies. I'll try to do better next time.